As a producer for the new AMC series Movies That Shook the World, I have had the privilege of interviewing a number of celebrities and experts involved with some of Hollywood’s biggest films. Now, I’m no star fucker; in fact, I’ve always prided myself on the “I don’t give a shit who you are” mantra I’ve adopted over the years. For more often than not, the reality of a celebrity’s personality rarely coincides with the expectations of ugly plebeians like myself.
But, I gotta say, sometimes it is hard to suppress that flutter, that tingle of excitement as someone truly famous sits not three feet away and it’s only a mere nanosecond separating Mr or Ms Larger-Than-Life from a misguided impulse that could start at my brain and end with bug-eyed questions like, “I heard they’re doing Clash of the Titans 2. Is that true? Did you keep the sword? Do you have Ray Harryhausen’s phone number?”
So my point is that sometimes my job is to protect them from that. From me. But last week, I added another threat to my list of perilous possibilities. The setup is thus: I had interviews that day, and this interviewee in particular was one of the key storytellers for my film, and I also held him in high regard. Turns out, he’s one of those rare interviews you can only hope to encounter. He’s cool. He’s low maintenance. He’s funny. And best of all, he doesn’t have a book, a new movie, or a donation cup for those starving kids in French Guyana. In other words, he actually answers questions about the subject.
The interview concludes. We shake hands. I’m smiling, sincere. Happy to meet someone who can relate to the common man. A celebrity who hasn’t lost it. A star who has retained his humanity and perspective on life and his place in the universe. We’re all in it together, people. He can talk to the pizza guy, he can talk to the garbage man, and he can talk to me, man to man. Human beings inexorably linked by a common one-celled ancestor who grew out of the muck and putrid stank of early life. We’re in this together, baby. For the long haul. Til death do us part.
Mr Smith (we’ll call him that from this point forward) removes his mic and heads straight for the toilet.
At this point, a series of thoughts strike me, each one slower than the last: 1) Mr Smith already went to the toilet before the interview. 2) Mr Smith must be going to drop a deuce. 3) I used the toilet not an hour ago. 4) When I went pee pee I realized that the toilet barely flushed. 5) The water must be turned off. 6) Is Mr Smith going to… ? 6) When the water is… ? 7) Oh my God!
Panicked, I run to the hotel phone. “Hello?! I need help. Yes, room 902. No, I don’t want any towels, I need a plumber. What?! The water’s turned off?”
From across the room, I hear the pathetic clink of the toilet lever. Useless. No water and therefore no gurgling as the human waste is swept away for destinations unknown.
“Hey Jim! I took a shit and the I think the toilet’s broken,” cries Mr Smith.
Meanwhile, another panicked producer enters the hotel room, preparing for her upcoming interview. We trade a pair of raised eyebrows as I rush into the bathroom to do whatever it is I can, within reason.
Luckily, I don’t have to do a thing, for Mr Smith has opened the top of the toilet and is already beginning fill it up with cups of water…and boy, he did take a shit. It stinks. He laughs, and casually asks me, “Who’s coming in for the next interview?” I pause for dramatic effect. ”Anne Archer,” I say.
This puts Mr Smith on a frenzied mission, as the obvious repercussions are just too awful and humorous to imagine. In the end, Mr Smith must have spent years as a master plumber before hitting the big time, because within minutes, his poo poo is whisked away with a few cups of water and that beautiful concept known as gravity.
He pauses on the way out of the hotel room, turns to me and says, “Anne Archer, huh? Well…maybe next time.”
Indeed. A true star. He knows when to concede the scene to someone else. But really, the reason I like Mr. Smith so much is simple: He understands that his shit, like everyone else’s…stinks.
– Jim Eckles